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Last night I was sitting on my couch in my apartment in Paris, with a friend who was staying with me for Fashion Week. We were both looking at and sharing our Facebook with each other, laughing about some of the photos on her Facebook of horrible fashion faux pas, and looking at some of the entries I had recently made for eConscious Consulting.

We had just recently had a discussion about an article I had written about “Like”-ing pictures on Facebook, and how it can expose your activity to unknown third parties.

https://econsciousconsulting.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/i-like-you-like-everybody-see-like/

Suddenly, on my Facebook newsfeed, there appeared a gruesome picture of a severed head. I had to look twice to make sure, but someone had in fact posted a picture of a severed head, and had tagged two of my friends on it (this is how I could see the photo as the person posting it was not a friend of mine).

To say I was shocked was an understatement. I felt sickened and immediately made a comment on the photo querying the sanity of the person posting it, and then reported the photo to Facebook. I then rang my friend to alert them to the fact that they had been tagged on such a gruesome picture. They were aware of it, as the person who posted it was related to one of them, he had taken it after a bombing in their home country. They had requested that they be untagged and I am sure, suggested to the person posting it that it was not suitable for Facebook (or perhaps anywhere else).

I then got to thinking about another article we reposted about the people who are responsible for vetting reported photos on Facebook

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/03/06/0528227/the-worst-job-in-the-digital-world.

Some other unsuspecting person was about to get a shock too. It certainly brought home the truth of what Hugh Pickens was saying in his article.

This morning, as I was once again sat browsing through my Facebook, looking for inspiration and pertinent articles for eConscious Consulting, enjoying many of the articles and posts about International Women’s Day, when up popped another picture, posted by a non-friend, but with a friend tagged on it (which is how I could see it), that also kind of shocked me. I don’t know how many of you know this painting ‎”l’origine du monde” by Gustave Courbet, 1866, which is hung at the Musée d’Orsay here in Paris,

(Warning: graphic painting of female genitalia)

http://www.lepays.fr/actualite/2011/10/24/facebook-assigne-pour-censure

but it is quite graphic, and very much on topic for IWD.

What concerns me is the randomness of these images, one gruesome and violent, and one artistic but graphic. Both of these pictures were posted by non-friends, but the mere act of tagging my friends on them, combined with leaving the privacy setting on the photos as Public, allowed me to see them. And I don’t want to have seen them, especially not the first one.

Fortunately, I was not in a public place, or in a professional environment, nor were there any children around that could have been accidentally exposed to these pictures, but it could happen.

Pay attention to what you post, if the content is private or disturbing, or could compromise another person’s privacy, ensure that the privacy settings are not left as Public. And, be aware that anything could pop on your Facebook newsfeed, so be consciousof who could be exposed to it.